Pornography skews teens’ understanding of sexuality

Opinions Columnist | Mass Communication Sophomore

Online pornography is a harmful and pervasive industry that negatively affects its viewers’ sexuality by framing violent sex as normal and enjoyable.

The average age of a person’s first exposure to Internet pornography is 11 years, according to statistics gathered by Family Safe Media. Children of this age are impressionable and sexually uncertain. They are still trying to decipher what sex entails and how one should go about it. About 90 percent of 8- to 16-year-olds have viewed porn (mostly while doing homework), and 80 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds have witnessed multiple hardcore porn scenes, according to these same statistics.

Pornography is not always a bad thing, but the increased availability of hardcore porn is mentally damaging to a young person’s budding sexuality. The teen years are a time of sexual exploration. It is the time when hormones flood young brains and cause teens to become sexually aware. Ridiculous rumors and misconceptions about sex are common as hordes of sexually interested yet uninformed teenagers roam their schools, genitals attentive and heads empty.

In this critical moment, where information about sex is needed but rarely provided, many teens turn to porn for answers. Young boys and girls gawk as strange camera angles, bad acting and cheesy music come together to create contrived sexual scenes that have little to nothing to do with the real world. Hardcore porn is even more unrealistic—it fetishizes women, reducing them to sex objects that are always eager and willing to accommodate a man’s desires, no matter how degrading.

With hardcore porn on the rise and more easily accessible than ever, more and more adolescents are being exposed to graphic depictions of sex at a young age. This early exposure to porn teaches boys that domination is sexy, skewing their ability to recognize what constitutes consent. Porn often overlooks female pleasure in favor of the man’s, teaching girls that it is okay to engage in sex acts that are not enjoyable. Both genders are taught that violent sex is normal.

Additionally, porn treats transgendered people and people of color as fetishes, stripping them of their humanity and displaying them only for their physical traits. Many online porn sites categorize videos according to race or body type. This allows browsers to pick and choose videos as though the actors are types of sandwiches instead of people with actual feelings and personalities. Porn promotes a mindset where people are seen as sexual objects rather than human beings.

Pornography could be safe and fun were it better regulated. For one, hardcore porn sites should be more difficult for young children to access. Youths at the brink of puberty should be taught about sex in a respectful, educational environment rather than through graphic online pornography. Furthermore, educators should explain to youths that pornography does not offer realistic depictions of sex. It needs to be stressed that sex should be a consensual, mutually enjoyable activity. Learning about sexuality should be exciting, and facts should come from trained, educated individuals rather than unrealistic porn clips.

The epidemic of sexually clueless and misled teenagers must be ended. School hallways should be filled with confident, curious kids who respect each other rather than misinformed porn addicts. Kids need to be educated about sex in a safe environment, not from a video that starts with “bow chicka wow wow.”